Thrive Offers Alleviation From Stress

Inside the meticulously groomed gates of Wake Forest, there are smiling, well-groomed, involved, talented and stressed-out students.

After the first several weeks of school, most students have learned time management skills and how to finish the work that they need to around their schedule, but are they leaving time to take care of themselves?

Suzanne Hunt, the assistant director of Wellbeing and Health Promotion, believes that students here at Wake Forest struggle the most with what she coins “Suzanne’s three S’s” —  stress, sleep and self-care.

According to student health experts on campus, some stress is helpful in promoting growth. However, most of the time it is not beneficial for student’s physical, emotional, academic and social wellbeing to be consumed with stress in their daily lives. Having too many stressors can result in negative and unhealthy habits and behaviors.

In response to this, the Office of Wellbeing was launched at Wake Forest in 2014 to promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle for students, faculty and staff.

“There is so much pressure at Wake Forest to be so involved,” said sophomore Victoria Parker. “My exercise routine is being compromised.”

According to Hunt, many students face this problem. I myself have struggled with getting enough sleep and exercise during stressful times like midterms. With Thrive’s weekly events in my calendar, however, I am able to stay more mindful.

“Students often keep [self-care things] out of their typical weekly schedule,” Hunt added, “because they think it is more of a luxury and not a necessity and it really should be part of your daily routine.”

According to the American Psychological Association, exercise is among one of the many positive ways to manage stress. Other healthy stress-management techniques include things like meditation, smiling, getting support from friends and stepping away from stressors.

Thrive, a program through the Office of Wellbeing, has the goal of teaching students about the eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, occupational, physical, financial, intellectual, social, spiritual and how to balance them while studying here.

“I enjoy helping students to understand social and physical wellbeing and how they are intertwined,” Hunt said.

Students come to Wake Forest for their college degree or academic wellbeing. This transforms into social, emotional and environmental well-being and so-on through creating relationships with friends while on campus.

The eight-dimensional approach is a holistic way to balance all aspects of health and wellness. Each category is assigned a month of the school year. Within that month there are various events, workshops and available resources that correspond with the subject.

Wellbeing Wednesdays are a good example of this, taking place every Wednesday in the Reynolds Gym from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Activities range from belly dancing to painting to yoga. The varied weekly events cater to the interests of just about every student.

“We want people to be able to have options and to take an hour or so for themselves once a week,” said Wake Forest Fellow Alisha Hartley.

A personal trainer can help you to reach physical goals, a tutor can help you reach academic goals and a well-being coach looks into your life to help you reach a balance.

“When students don’t take time for themselves through self-care, they will feel more stressed than they really are,” Hunt said.

Other free weekly events that are not well-known include Gold Apron cooking classes and Mindful Wake meditation sessions, both of which are located in the gym as well.